One ‘SIP' at a time



Does your monthly saving fluctuate widely? Does it leave you undecided on how much to invest regularly? FundsIndia.com comes to your aid with a Flexi-SIP scheme. Under this, you have the flexibility to set the amount for every SIP instalment. Apart from choosing a mutual fund scheme, a regular investment amount and date like any usual SIP, investors here will get to choose a maximum investment amount as well. The monthly instalment can be between the minimum required for that scheme and the maximum set by the investor. However, this does not mean that you have to be on the alert every month and set a value when the instalment falls due. If you choose to not act on it, the regular amount will automatically be invested.

Money in your handset!

Carrying credit/debit cards and Sodexo passes may soon become passé with the launch of Airtel's ‘Mobile Wallet' service. Called Airtel Money, this lets you use your cell phone to make payments at merchant outlets like coffee shops, restaurants, etc. Activating this service will require you to meet Know Your Customer norms and get your SIM card upgraded to tag on this service at Airtel outlets. You can ‘load' cash at Airtel retail outlets and make payments at merchants who have signed up with Airtel. Though only limited outlets are now part of the Airtel Money network, this will soon be expanded to 3,000 outlets. So gear up to unload you purses and load up your mobile phones!

Secure mobile transfers

Thanks to a new RBI directive, credit card transactions over phone are to become safer now. An additional security layer in the form of a one-time password (OTP) has been created for transactions including payments and automated IVR (Interactive Voice Response) services. The OTP will be valid for a single use and will be effective for two hours. So, the next time you use phone banking services, remember that you need at least five sets of numbers - the 16-digit card number, card expiry date, CVV number, your mobile number and the OTP!

Home, car loans get expensive

If you are looking to buy a house or a car, hurry up! Following a hike in policy rates by the RBI last week, auto and home loans have already turned a tad more expensive. HDFC has increased its retail prime lending rate (RPLR), on which its adjustable rate home loans (ARHL) are benchmarked, to 15.25 per cent from 15 per cent. Indian Overseas Bank, Indian Bank, Dena Bank, Bank of India and Oriental Bank of Commerce have also increased their lending rates this week with more banks like HDFC Bank, Punjab National Bank to follow suit.

NRI travel card

Non Resident Indians, here's some good news. Axis Bank has launched an India Travel Card, India's first and only Indian currency prepaid travel card for foreign nationals and non-resident Indians travelling to India. This card will initially be available at select Axis Bank branches in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai as well as a network of money changers. A customer can exchange foreign currency with the branch/money changer and receive a Rupee-denominated prepaid card with the same amount converted into Indian rupees. The card can be used at more than 4.7 lakh Merchant outlets and over 44,000 ATMs. The India Travel Card avoids the need to carry physical currency notes, international credit and debit cards, and traveller's cheques. You get to avoid hassles like loss of money, theft, frequent currency fluctuation. The card also allows you to receive Indian rupees anytime, anywhere without having to find a money changer or a bank branch.

Higher interest rates

The country's largest lender State Bank of India has this week raised interest rates on Foreign Currency Non Residential (FCNR) deposits held in sterling pound, euro and yen by up to 46 basis points. The new rates come into effect from February 1. Interest rates on FCNR deposits in euro with maturity period of one year and above but less than two years have been raised by 10 basis points to 2.57 per cent. Those on deposits of two years and above but less than three years has been hiked by 46 basis points to 3.03 per cent. No changes have been made in interest rates on deposits in the American dollar.

It's e-gold time!

Beginning March, e-gold investors may be able to exchange their units with select jewellers across the country. Under this new scheme proposed by the National Spot Exchange, physical delivery of jewellery will be available at any time, against the surrender of demat units. The added good news is that there could be a savings of 10-15 per cent by exercising this option as against the normal buying of gold coins or exchange of old jewellery.

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